In anticipation of the November 2016 reopening of Robinson Center Music Hall, this week’s Arkansas Heritage Month entries look at seven Little Rock Mayors who worked on proposals for a municipal auditorium between 1904 and 1940.
Charles Taylor became Little Rock’s mayor in April 1911. He inherited the temporary auditorium that was already showing signs of wear and tear after four years. Throughout the eight years he was in office, he and the City Council wrestled with the question of what to do about the auditorium.
Time and time again, there would be calls to tear the building down. Its proximity to the 1913 fire station was causing the insurance rates on that building to be increased. It was viewed as structurally unsound and had outlived its useful life. However, without that building, there would be no public space for conventions and community meetings. While the Hotel Marion offered convention facilities in its ballroom, it did not necessarily lend itself to trade shows. In addition, as a private entity, it was able to set its own rules without necessary regard to the general public.
A 1913 proposal by planner John Nolen had called for an auditorium to be built on a new plaza area near City Hall. Due to funding issues, that plan never gained traction, despite repeated attempts by its backers to push for it.
At the time he left office in April 1919, Mayor Taylor had still not been able to solve the problem of a municipal auditorium.